Manure equals energy: Smithfield Foods and Dominion Energy enter joint venture

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Smithfield Foods and Dominion Energy announced a joint venture called Align Renewable Natural Gas that will look to turn manure into renewable energy.

According to officials, the partnership between the two companies will seek to find ways of capturing methane emissions from hog farms and convert them into clean renewable energy for residential home heating and power for local businesses.

"At Smithfield, we recognize true, enduring sustainability initiatives require collaboration with other proven innovators who share a similar vision," said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods. "Dominion Energy is one such proven innovator and we are proud to partner with them in our longstanding pursuit of renewable energy. Align RNG is part of our nationwide expansion of Smithfield Renewables, innovative projects designed to help meet our goal to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2025."

Officials say that by capturing methane that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, the use of RNG leads to a significant reduction in methane emissions from the agriculture and energy industries.

For those who may be worried about any undesirable smells, Smithfield Foods said that won't be an issue. They told News 3 the process won't create any unwanted odors.

Sullivan said they will have the ability to power 600,000 to 700,000 homes and businesses each year with a "renewable and reliable" source of energy.

So, if you're a Columbia Gas or Virginia Natural Gas customer, this could be bringing renewable natural gas into your home by next year.

Renewable natural gas is something that can be reproduced from methane-generated from hog or dairy farms, landfills, wastewater treatment plants and food processing facilities.

Officials tell News 3 this is a way to bring together farmers, food processors, energy consumers, policy makers, community members and Mother Nature.

Together, the companies are investing at least $250 million in this initiative over the next decade. They anticipate the initial application on 90 percent of Smithfield's finishing spaces in North Carolina and Utah.

For more on the joint venture between Smithfield Foods and Dominion Energy, click here.

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